Rizzo circles bases for inside-the-park homer

Rizzo circles bases for inside-the-park homer

CINCINNATI -- In a series that featured a record-breaking performance from Kris Bryant and a wacky 15-inning game, it's only fitting that Wednesday's 9-2 Chicago victory at Great American Ball Park between the Reds and Cubs started out strange.

After starter Cody Reed gave up hits to Ben Zobrist and Bryant in the first inning, Anthony Rizzo drove a deep fly ball to left-center field. While Rizzo did not run full speed out of the box, expecting it to be caught, both Billy Hamilton and Adam Duvall closed in on the ball. Nearly colliding, Hamilton slid out of the way, and the ball bounced off Duvall's glove and hit Hamilton in the face.

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With Hamilton injured on the ground, Rizzo realized the ball dropped and took off full speed, rounding the bases and scoring on an inside-the-park home run. Rizzo topped out at 18.6 mph once he hit full stride and it took him 17.5 seconds to round the bases, according to Statcast™.

"Right when it hit off of him, it kicked in," Rizzo said. "Turned on my speed and turned the jets on. Yeah, even if [third-base coach Gary] Jones is holding me up there, I was probably still just going to truck through it."

The home run was Rizzo's 19th of the season and his first career inside-the-park homer. The last Cubs player with an inside-the-park homer was Tony Campana on Aug. 5, 2011, also against the Reds. Rizzo said he didn't think he'd had one since Little League.

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Afterward, the Cubs had a little fun with Rizzo, who was visibly tired after running around the bases.

"I'll tell you what, I recovered well," Rizzo joked. "I was really proud of my heart rate there, coming back down about the third."

Of course, after using pitchers in the outfield on Tuesday, manager Joe Maddon joked that he was ready to put reliever Travis Wood, who was unavailable to pitch, in at first base.

"He was smelling it," Maddon said. "He smelled inside-the-park homer. We were going to put Woody at first base right after that."

There are genuine questions over the merits of Rizzo's homer, though. The ball hit off of Duvall's glove before hitting Hamilton's face, and Duvall believes that he should've made the catch.

"It was one of those bang-bang plays and it was really anybody's ball," Duvall said. "We started both going at the same time and -- I thought we were going to collide there for a second. The bottom line is it needs to be caught and that cost us."

Rizzo expressed his concerns for Hamilton after the game, saying that he hopes Hamilton is OK and that he made a "good attempt at it."

Among other concerns for the Cubs -- making sure Rizzo's head doesn't get too big after showing off his "speed."

"We're trying to have him understand he's not [fast]," Maddon said.

Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.